MERIAN, Maria Sibylla. Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium, in Latin and French. Amsterdam: Pierre Gosse, 1726.
2o (500 x 321 mm). Latin and French title-pages in red and black with engraved vignette by D. Coster, dedication with large engraved vignette after F. Ottens, and 72 ENGRAVED PLATES COLORED IN A CONTEMPORARY HAND by Joseph Mulder, Pieter Sluyter, and D. Stoopendaal after Merian (without frontispiece and later inserts of the dedication to B. Scott and editor's preface, light browning to some plates, blank 1/4 in. portion of plate 55 trimmed). Contemporary mottled calf, covers with tripple fillet border and central gilt ornament (coat-of-arms erased), spine in eight compartments, two morocco lettering pieces (lower spine end repaired preserving original spine, light wear to joints of upper spine end). Provenance: purchased from Hamill and Barker, 1962.
Third edition and first French edition. The Metamorphosis is justifiably Merian's most famous work, resulting from her trip with her daughter Dorothea to Surinam in 1699. The two women spent two years studying and recording plants and insects, returning to Amsterdam with a series of finished drawings on vellum, sketches, and specimens, from which they continued to work. The first edition of their labors appeared in 1705 in Latin. Later editions, as the present first French edition, contain 12 additional plates by Merian's older daughter Johanna. The Metamorphosis is "the most magnificent work on insects so far produced ... [combining] science and art in unequal proportions, meeting the demands of art at the expense, when necessary, of science. Her portrayals of living insects and other animals were imbued with a charm, a minuteness of observation and an artistic sensibility that had not previously been seen in a natural history book" (Peter Dance, The Art of Natural History, pp.50-51). Dunthorne 205; See Great Flower Books, p.67; Hunt 467; See Oak Spring Flora 101; Nissen BBI 1341.